Sunday, April 29, 2007

hot, again

Can the weather make up it's mind? Please? We escaped the heat this weekend (following a cold rainy spell) a couple of different ways. Running into old friends at the beach was a happy surprise. These people know how to travel - they come well equipped with umbrella, huge baskets of towels and food, and a cooler of cold Chardonnay. None for me, as sun and alcohol can be a heady mix. But it was festive.

We killed some time in town in Friday at a park fountain. Here dogs, kids and locals hang out, chat and escape the heat under big old redwood trees. The fountain is fun, but of course it's always tempting to get a little TOO wet. I tried not to nag.

At the beach, there's no such thing as too wet. A good trip to the sea really gets your appetite up and helps you sleep. I went in for a ritual dunking: three times, all the way under. I braced myself for this experience: I knew it was gonna be hard, but good for me. My body was craving saltwater.

I strolled right out...deeper, deeper. At waist hight, I took the first plunge. The cold was such a shock I couldn't stand up! I staggered as the next wave hit me...plunge number two was merciless. At that point I let go, and immediately felt empowered. One more quick dive into the next swell and I was done.

Emerging, I felt incredibly alive, invigorated, tingly...and the breezy beach suddenly felt amazingly warm. I felt happy and friendly towards all creatures.

Princess found her own way of warming up: sand angels. She especially loves to do this right before leaving, to the detriment of the car.

And here's what I get when I tell her it's time to go home. (I felt the same way.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

my job

Can you guess my job? Well, the apple surely gives it away. I have been teaching Kindergarten for eleven years at my local public elementary school. I never would have guessed this would become my profession. I am not envious of any other job; I truly believe that mine is perfect. OK, you know I'm just kidding. The pay sucks. But sometimes it feels more like play than work, and more often than not I look forward to going to school. Can most people honestly say that?

Pictured above, a corner of my desk: potted cyclamen (growing things are good for growing things!), a framed copy of the Kindergarten Teacher's Creed by Betty Peck; apple full of paper clips, a frog homework stamp, and the basic teacher's survival kit: Altoids, lavendar aromatherapy pulse lotion, Burt's Bees cherry lip balm, and Rescue Remedy. In the other corner: my computer, bien sur.

Here's the wall above my desk, where I pin all my special notes and pictures that trickle in. My favorite is the centered one in pink marker: "I'm sorry Ms Ray I will always try to control myself"...with a Werther's Original scotch taped to the corner. I never hold a grudge.

Of course, with the push for early literacy, not to mention our recent challenges presented by No Child Left Behind (don't get me started!), it's not playtime all day. Indeed, the standards are rigid, the curriculum is assertive, and like I tell incoming parents, "it's not like when WE went to fact, Kindergarten is the new First Grade." I am to strive for each child reading a predictable leveled text by the end of the year.

And when we're not doing that, we're having Choice Time, our favorite part of our day.

A Montessori idea: beaded bracelets. Even the boys like these. Some say they are "for my mom" but many are wearing them still the next day. I give them pre - trimmed pipe cleaners for simple stringing. These particular beads were just a few cents at the flea market.

Art materials at the easels change often. Sometimes it's the traditional paints (I pour them into the small school milk cartons, enabling me to close them up at the end of the day and toss them out when they get crusty). Sometimes it's the dregs of the markers after many weeks of use in the writing center (just working vertically seems to make this fun and different). This time it's chalk on colored construction paper. There are some folded painted butterflies hanging in the foreground, an excercise in color and symmetry.

The reading "corner" is a popular Choice Time activity. I encourage cranky ones to "take a rest" here and read quietly, to themselves or to a stuffed animal. If anyone claims to be "bored" or doesn't "like" any of our Choices, I immediately send them here. I have 100's, if not 1,ooo's of books, people. Name a book, I've probably got it. I came upon a stash of the original Dick and Jane Readers in the library's throw away pile recently. I've got to look them up an Ebay soon. Meanwhile I enjoy their retro charm.

Junk Art is generally introduced the week before Earth Day. Everyone is encouraged to bring in their clean "junk" to share. I provide several kinds of tape (more immediate satisfaction than glue), brads, staplers, scissors and other odds and ends. This is immediately the favored Choice, year after year. And each year the children get more ingenious.

And the correct question to ask when your child brings home a treasured piece of Junk Art? No, not "What is it?!" Rather, "Wow! Tell me about that...."

I love my job.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007







All, June 2002.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yesterday my second daughter entered the Teen Years. Here she is known as Horsey Girl, but at birth I named her Merideth. It was the name of a favorite soap opera character, and I purposely spelled it with the "i" first so I could shorten it to Meri, the most blessed of names. Mer means "of the sea".

Here she is the day she got her ears pierced. This ritual was saved for the moment of her first period, a long awaited and highly anticipated event. We will be celebrating for real at the North American Women's Herbal Symposium next month (more on that later).

I coined her Horsey Girl because she has always loved all things equine. With the arrival of her beloved Fanny Mae her world is now complete. Meri loves all animals and has a quiet sense of ease with them. She has been a great comfort to us in times of animal tragedy, such as when our oldest dog's leg was broken, and when a friend's dog was accidently struck by dh's truck and had to be put down. Her steady manner and deep compassion helped us all keep our heads.

Meri is one of the most creative people I know. She loves to deconstruct clothing and put it back together in imaginative ways. I always look forward to Halloween when she creates the most wonderful outfits from pure imagination. Developmentally I am thankful that Meri can still play, loves to be outdoors, and is always willing to help whenever she can (so unlike her older sister!) I pray that this sensibility is one of tempermant and will continue throughout her life.

Meri has a unique sense of style and never gets too caught up in what other people think of her, another difference between the two older girls. She likes thrift stores as much as I do, enjoys digging for treasure, and is still attracted to toys and stuffed animals and cuddly things. I would indeed describe her as cuddly; she often begs to sleep with me, fond to go back to the blissful days (before dh came along) when we snuggled together every night.

So far we have remained good friends. I don't push my needs or expectations upon her (unlike her dad) and she responds with good - naturedness and a generally pleasant outlook on life. Alas I fear she is a leaf in the wind, and sooner or later may succumb to the pressures put on her by the "other side". If that happens I can only let go with love, and know in my heart that our bond cannot be broken.

Happy Birthday sweet Meri. I love you with all my heart.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

where dreams come true

It's been twenty years since I've been to Disneyland. Yes, I had mixed feelings about it. Coming from the cool, clean, quiet forest to the jam - packed frenzy of the Magic Kingdom seemed daunting at best. But I'll say, once you are actually in the park and you catch a glimpse of (you guessed it) Sleeping Beauty's Castle, well it's all downhill from there folks.

The plaque beneath the statue reads, "It all started with a mouse." My favorite myth about Walt Disney is that rather than actually dying, he was frozen in a specialized time capsule and will be defrosted when his visionary dreams become reality. Um, flying cars anyone?!

Astride the carasoul, our first (and friendliest!) ride, I couldn't help but notice the picture inset above my horse: the fateful moment, and where the blog began.... a sign indeed, n'est-ce pas?

I love all the little details here...the architecture, the attention paid to every nook and cranny, "lands" blending seamlessly Fantasyland there were so many lovely little diversions, including this tiny house. Of course in Santa Cruz something like this would cost upwards of $400K.

And here she, is my namesake...the lovely Princess Aurora (though as I always tell P. #2, "Honey, if you are the princess, guess what that makes me?"). Here she weaves a tale of love and romance near the Princess Fantasy Faire stage. This is a dreamy place to rest, take a little refreshment, and watch the wide - eyed four year old become entranced...

Another view of the Fantasy Faire, where little budding princesses took lessons in curtsying, waving, and other fanciful arts of the court. The styling here is impeccable, every flower fresh and the actors always smiling. Ah, youth!

I couldn't resist a snap of this spinning wheel, glimpsed through a window on Main Street. Good heavens, how in the world does it work? Upon close inspection I was conviced that it's either missing parts or has been assembled in a most haphazard manner and rendered unusable...but it was a good sign anyway. (Cue the ghostly voice: "Hoooow loooong has it beeeeen since you've spiiiiiiiiiiinned......")

Dh, clowning around in the hat shop. He makes a pretty good pirate, and after three days of walking a jillion miles, had the tempermant to match.

Our little family, sans the big girls, who were sorely missed. We are posing just outside of the Winnie the Pooh ride, after a jag in the candy store (don't ask). Dh is hoping for a big yield like this one from his hives next year...oh did I mention we are getting bees? More on that later.

My hat was the first, and best, purchase of the trip. After a slight ribbon change I believe it will be the chapeau of the summer.

A trip to remember, to be sure. Big thanks to my sweet mil for hoisting the P. off around 9 each night so hubby and I had a little time alone (just me, him, and 100,00 other people on Spring Break!) We walked, we rode, we screamed, we laughed, and we ate...and ate....and ate...

What are vacations for, anyway?

Plan for the weekend: recover from vacation, and try to get some rest! Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

spring break

These seeds are bursting out of their pots since we planted them Ostara Eve. A mix of sunflowers, lantana and marigolds. I am not inspired to plant a garden this year. Recent years have been haphazard efforts at best, and I think I am giving it up until old age, much like book writing, painting, and traveling has been shelved in my mind.

I have many grand plans for Spring Break this week. Some are about the images above: eating healthfully, drinking lots of pure water, yoga and meditation, serenity and grace and peace. This is always challenging, but never more so when the house is full of two teenagers, three dogs and an active four year old, all of them bent on shattering my calm.

My psychic last week told me I was holding a lot of sadness in my space, and I believe that she is right. There are a few reasons for this, and most of them are admittedly pretty old. But my therapist, who I LOVE, recommended massage and acupuncture in the coming weeks, so I'm pretty excited to try moving some of that old crap out.

Spring break doesn't call for knitting, though Lord knows there are projects I could be finishing. I may indeed finish spinning up the Wildflower roving my first Secret Pal sent so very, very long ago...there's not much left before I can start plying, which is always my favorite part.

Yes.....meditating, sleeping, journaling, reading and making tea all feel right right now.

Um, oh yeah....tomorrow we leave for Disneyland. Guess I'll have to wait!

A big thank you to one of my favorite bloggers, Laura, for this special award....I like to think I am thinking, but not ever too hard.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter highlights

A chalk bird drawn at school.

Spring smooches under the wisteria. And finally, tallying up the score at the end of the hunt.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

why I haven't been knitting

I've been busy with The Play. Horsey Girl scored a leading role in her middle school production of (what else?) Annie Get Your Gun. She played Dolly, Annie's rival and Frank Butler's Lovely Assistant (that's Frank on the left.) Being involved in The Play meant Many Hours of volunteer work: building sets, planning the cast party, selling tickets, and of course most importantly, sewing costumes.

Here's my Big Contribution: the fancy dress for the Ballroom Scene. Yes it was just as complicated as it looks. That's eight yards of fabric you see there (not counting the lining); two entire spools of thread, two broken machine needles, fifteen hooks and eyes, ten plastic rings and several yards of bias tape. The ruching is done by sewing a casing in the U - shaped bustle piece in ten places, threading twill tape through the casings and tying it in ten places through plastic rings attached to the underskirt. Miraculously, by the last performance, only one ring had pulled itself off.

The dress was actually four seperate pieces: the top ( it had a separating zipper up the back), the underskirt (where you see the lace), the front apron and the bustle. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Fourteen hours of work is nothing; seeing your daughter transform into a shining star: priceless.

Sunday, April 01, 2007





All from 2006.
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